Pacers as unpredictable as ever

Lets be honest here: the 2016-17 Indiana Pacers have not once looked destined to seriously compete in the Eastern Conference.

We could start with the first two games of the season when Indiana put away the Dallas Mavericks at home in their opener, and then proceeded to lose on the road to the lowly Brooklyn Nets two nights later.

Or we could talk about Indiana’s next three contests – at Chicago, at home versus the Los Angeles Lakers and at Milwaukee – in which the Pacers could only manage to beat LA in the comfortable confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

A solid 2-3 start under new head coach Nate McMillan.

They just need time to mesh, many of you likely thought to yourselves (myself included). I even wrote about it.

Not the case, apparently.

As the season has progressed and with the playoffs around the corner (amazing, isn’t it?), Indiana is staring at a multitude of possibilities. And I don’t mean that in a good way. The 2-3 record to begin the season was no fluke, please understand that. The Pacers are currently 37-38, and holding tight on the East’s eighth playoff spot, with seven games left to play. In other words, McMillan’s crew is a .500 team at best.

Their possibilities? Win out, and potentially claim the No. 5 seed in the postseason, matching up with either Toronto or Washington. Or lose out, and risk missing the playoffs altogether. The most likely scenario, however, is to proceed in fluctuating wins and losses to finish anywhere between the fifth spot and the eighth spot in the East.

Those of you hoping Indiana just needed time to mesh (again, myself included) are likely still sitting there scratching your heads.

Ah, the potential this roster has. The talent is glaring.

Both valid assessments, still holding some weight at this moment, almost exactly five months to the day after that thrilling opening victory against Dallas.

Instead, the reality is the Pacers are as disjointed as ever.

To be specific, Indiana traveled to Minnesota to take on the ‘Wolves on January 26 and escaped with a solid road win. They followed that up with six consecutive wins. Included were an impressive blowout of Houston at home on January 29 and a season-sweeping victory over Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder on February 6 to culminate a season-high seven game winning streak.

Unfortunately for the Pacers, they had just peaked and didn’t even know it. Indiana somehow managed to drop their next six contests, completely wiping out that oh-so-impressive streak of wins.

Following those polarizing streaks, McMillan led his team to alternating wins and losses for the next 14 games. As of this writing, the Pacers have dropped four of their past five. Disjointed.

Paul George hasn’t let off the gas in his complaining to officials during games. George’s teammates aren’t helping with their nightly inconsistencies on both ends of the floor. All this, combined with injuries to the recently-released Rodney Stuckey, Al Jefferson and Glenn Robinson III, sets Indiana up for an unpredictable finish.

That potential, that talent, still staring us in the face.

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